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Career Buzzwords You Need to Know (And the Ones to Avoid)

by Mr Yellow

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"You never get a second chance to make a first impression" is popular for a reason; it is completely true. This is particularly important in professional settings where the way you present yourself and your skills have a direct impact on the opportunities that you will be offered. 

So, just like you wouldn't be caught dead going to an interview in an 80s shoulder pad suit; you wouldn't want to be using outdated terms in your professional interactions. That's why we're breaking down the terms that are guaranteed to highlight your skills even more and the buzzwords that you need to delete from your vocabulary now.

What Are Employers Looking For? 

Your CV is essentially your calling card since it's the first form of interaction that an employer or a hiring manager shall be making with you and therefore it's crucial that this is a good one. As a rule of thumb, it is always recommended to avoid overly pretentious words  that are solely aimed at impressing but end up having the opposite effect. Clear and understandable english will always win the day when it comes to conveying your message coherently and unequivocally - after all your CV should be a platform from which you highlight your skills and competences and not a space where you show how many difficult words you know. So, stick to emphasising your achievements, competences and what makes you you (be it your passion for landscape painting, your baking obsession, your impressive hiking trips around the world or your guitar playing skills). 

In the same vein, face-to-face interviews also require you to use the appropriate jargon. Research shows that employers form their impression of you in as little as four seconds so it's essential to be at the top of your game as soon as you walk through that boardroom door. In fact, the first form of communication that you should pay attention to is your body language, so make sure that you smile, steer clear of limp handshakes, avoid slouching and nervous fidgeting with your hands. These unspoken cues will automatically project confidence, professionalism and a friendly disposition.

When it comes to verbal communication, avoid using pompous words that will only make you look like you are trying too hard. However, this does not mean that you should not use technical terms pertaining to your industry or the right keywords when it is appropriate...just don't get carried away with the flowery language. 

Get Rid of the Fluffy Vocab - Words to Avoid 

You might think that it is a good idea to sprinkle your resume or interview with a few commonly used phrases or words. However, many other candidates would probably have thought the same thing and HR managers end up being inundated with identical job applications that don't do justice to the candidate's abilities. The following words have been used ad nauseam and it's probably a good idea to give them a rest:


Saying that you are detail-oriented will not provide your prospective employer with any insights into your abilities. Instead it will just look like a cookie cutter phrase that was just thrown there, almost like an afterthought. Instead try to highlight actual scenarios where your skill has made a difference. For instance, has your focus increased the accuracy of your customer database? Mention this instead.

Hard Worker

This is another cliché that has been used one too many times that does not add any value to your profile; it's not like anyone is going to admit that they are not hardworking on their CV. Instead try to give examples of situations where you have gone above and beyond your job description to ensure that a task or project is completed successfully.


Even if you are a bona fide expert in your area, stating blatantly that you are one is unlikely to do you any favours. Indeed, claiming that you are an authority on a particular subject is unlikely to convince anyone that you actually are one. Instead of stating that you are an expert try to use words and scenarios that emphasise your professional clout - articles that you've published, projects that you have delivered or quantifiable milestones that you have completed will effectively illustrate that you are a pro at what you do. 


Putting it bluntly; saying that you're a self-starter makes you look like a self-promoter and not like the competent professional that you are. Once again, it's a good idea to stick to the facts since this will delineate the value that you can bring to an organisation in a concrete manner.


It may seem like a good idea to state that you are a responsible person, however, this word tends to be too vague for an HR manager to decipher your actual role in a professional set-up. Instead, define the specific scenarios where you took a leading role and include data or statistics that highlight it.


If there ever was a ubiquitous professional word in business environments, this would probably be it. Everyone can claim that they are innovative, but as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. So, instead of claiming that you are innovative let your work do the talking and demonstrate how you were inventive and original. 

Freshen Up Your Glossary - Keywords to Know and Use

So what are the right words to use? As a general rule, it is a good idea to stick to words that suggest an action since these automatically indicate that you are a passionate and enthusiastic employee. 


Long gone are the days when learning stopped once you completed your formal education or when you first started working in a particular sector. Technologies are constantly evolving and as a result tasks and roles in the workplace are becoming more fluid and boundless. This means that companies are more and more interested in candidates that are flexible and that can shift seamlessly from one job to another.


Who doesn't like a person who can take initiative? This quality is particularly relevant given the increasing number of companies that are operating through a flat hierarchy. So, it's a good idea to assert that you are a proactive individual that doesn't wait for direction but who can independently take the necessary steps to conclude a task. Don't forget to mention how you were proactive and you're golden.

Analytical Thinker

Improved efficiency is the ultimate bottom line for businesses. So, it is important to highlight how you can apply analytical thinking to solve problems and increase efficiency.


This keyword is particularly important for career opportunities in creative settings, where an employee's ability to do things differently could give the company an advantage over its competitors. So, make sure to speak about what you have created over the years. It's also important that your portfolio highlights all those great designs that you've devised and let your passion for your craft speak for you.


Similarly to proactivity, employers are constantly looking for people who can lead the way with their work. Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to be applying for a managerial position to be an employee that takes initiative. So, don't shy away from mentioning the times when you've taken the opportunity to make a difference.

Keeping your business terminology current and updated can be the distinguishing factor that makes you stand out from the competition. So, make sure that you don't rest on your laurels and stay on top of the trending career buzzwords...the trick is to choose wisely and not transform yourself into a walking business thesaurus.

Now that you've polished up your professional lingo, why not explore career opportunities through these recruitment agencies?

Keep on discovering local with Yellow! 


Mr Yellow
About Mr Yellow

With a passion for helping others and a desire to making you more efficient, Mr Yellow has managed to arm himself with powerful capabilities making your daily searches a breeze. Putting his knowledge, creativity and wit into action, he also crafts insightful and engaging articles encouraging you to explore the Maltese Islands and experience new adventures, while offering some interesting tips on a number of topics. Ever-present, Mr Yellow always has your back. 

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